Sue was born in Cape Town in 1954, and grew up in Harare, Zimbabwe, settling in Port Elizabeth in 1978. In 2019, she moved to Prince Albert. She studied Sciences at University of KZN, Pietermaritzburg, and later did a course in Ceramic Science at what is now NMU.
In 1983, she started a ceramic studio, exhibiting on various APSA exhibitions, at local and national level, and had a solo exhibition at the EP Fine Arts Gallery in 1990. After a fall from her horse, a damaged back prevented further work in ceramics, and frustrated creativity led to a successful career as an interior designer, including furniture design, retailed through her shop, called El Gecko Designs.
Throughout this time, she had pursued her interest in photography, which culminated in an exhibition of photographs at Creative Designs Gallery in 1999. She started painting in 1999, working mostly in oils, but also incorporating photography and mixed media. Most of her work has underlying social messages, often preoccupied with the plight of poor children, growing up in Africa, with little hope of a better future, and with urban decay. Her recent work deals with the issue of Dispossession, on many levels. Since moving to the Karoo, that landscape is finding its way into her work.
Between 2009-2012, she was Chairperson of artEC/ EPSAC Community Art Centre, where she worked to make it more relevant to all sectors of the Eastern Cape visual arts community.
In recent years, Sue has also written and designed several books, and co-founded El Gecko Publishing, with her husband, Max. She is featured in Art and Artists of the Eastern Cape, and in issue 35 of The South African Artist magazine.
Career Highlights to Date
1990 Ceramics solo exhibition at the EP Fine Arts Gallery Port Elizabeth
1999 Exhibition of photographs at Creative Designs Gallery in Port Elizabeth
2006 June Solo exhibition at Khüne Boekkooi Gallery in Port Elizabeth
2007 July Solo exhibition at Khüne Boekkooi Gallery in Port Elizabeth
2007 Oct Solo exhibition at Anne Bryant Art Gallery, East London
2008 Feb Historic Port Elizabeth at EPSAC Gallery with Vilia Offerman and Bob Binnell
2008 Mar War and Peace solo at Cuyler Street Gallery, Port Elizabeth
2008 Aug Solo Exhibition at Die Blou Vrou Gallery, Port Elizabeth
2009 Nov 4 Women, with Esmé Goosen, Rina Badenhorst & Roma Cloete, at EPSAC.
2012 July Alone: Together with Ayanda Mji & Jimmy Ndlovu at NAF Grahamstown
2013 Feb On the (t)horns of a dilemma with Dorelle Sapere at artEC
2013 July Alone: Together Again, Ayanda Mji, Litha Ncokazi & Jimmy Ndlovu NAF Grahamstown
2014 July Don’t Fence Me In, NAF Grahamstown
2015 July Locking Horns with Earth& Sky, Steph Liebetrau & Donvé Branch, NAF Grahamstown
2016 July UnLocking Horns, with Stephanie Liebetrau & Donvé Branch, NAF Grahamstown
2017 May Art in the Park, Pietermaritzburg
2017 July UnLocking Horns, Steph Liebetrau, Lookout Sibanda & Donvé Branch, NAF Grahamstown
2018 May Art in the Park, Pietermaritzburg
2018 June Prince Albert Open Studios
2018 Aug Decorex Johannesburg
2018 Dec Prince Albert Open Studios
2019 July Prince Albert Open Studios
2019 Aug Decorex Johannesburg
2020 Jan Prince Albert Open Studios
In addition to these, she has participated in many group exhibitions (locally and overseas, both open and adjudicated.) Sue has work in private and corporate collections locally and internationally, including the World Bank, and in the permanent collection at William Humphries Art Gallery, Kimberley.
Moving to Prince Albert has impacted strongly on my art. My earlier work was mostly about the plight of women and children in Africa, whose future seems so desperate. Urban imagery was sparked by living in an industrial hub, dependent on a very undependable power supply, and urban decay. We were surrounded by razor wire, alarm systems and security gates. “Don’t Fence Me In!” became the cry of my heart and the theme of my work.
My current work has the same name, but now I’m revelling in our new life surrounded by incredible light and space, so the theme has changed from a desperate plea into a celebration of freedom and ‘Karooness’. Images of razor wire and crumbling walls have been replaced by roads winding into wide open spaces, colourful succulents, majestic mountains. And I am still working in encaustic, but have also gone back to oils and my first love, photography.